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The ranked-choice ballot system most New York voters will face for the first time next month has candidates searching for ways to extend their appeal. A refrain among Democrats running in the mayoral primary is the request to “make me your second choice.”
It sounds odd, but increasingly looks like a savvy approach. Polls show the large field is fractured, meaning the odds are against anyone getting an outright majority in the first round, which would activate the ranked-choice system.
Under those rules, the candidate with the fewest No. 1 picks is eliminated, and his supporters’ votes are distributed according to the remaining order of preference. That process continues until two candidates remain and one has a majority, eliminating the need for a separate runoff.
Just as the candidates have a strategy for dealing with the new rules, voters also should have a plan so they are not shut out if their first choice doesn’t win.
Two basic approaches suggest themselves. The most obvious would be to rank on your ballot, from one to five, the candidates you think would be the best overall mayor.
If your first choice doesn’t win, perhaps your second choice will, or one of the others. In that case, your vote will have played a role in helping the winner secure a majority.
A caution: Don’t vote for the same candidate more than once. If you do, the rules say your ballot will be tossed out, although you might get a chance to correct it.
A different strategy, one that I plan to follow, is to rank your issues in order of importance and then match those with the candidates with the best plan. For example, I believe the most important thing the next mayor must do is allow the NYPD to take back the streets from the criminals and make New York once again the safest big city in America.
Eric Adams is the candidate who best fits that description and, as of now, he will be my No. 1 choice. An ex-cop himself, Adams, who is black, has spoken forcefully about how violent crime disproportionately involves black and brown victims and perpetrators.
He was the first candidate to go to Times Square after a recent shooting there wounded a 4-year-old girl and two women tourists.
“The enemy is winning and we are waving a big white flag,” Adams said in an impassioned speech. “These shootings have to stop and they have to stop now.”
He promises to bring back a new version of the undercover anti-crime unit to focus on illegal handguns and has talked about spot checks at transit hubs and even car stops at bridges and tunnels.
He has also singled out rising assaults and homelessness on the subways as problems the city must tackle if it hopes to lure back riders and tourists.
To me, the second most important problem the next mayor must fix is education, by setting high standards for teachers and students and supporting school choice, meaning charters.
Again, Adams has been a leading voice on both fronts, but he already has my vote on the basis of his approach to crime. So this is where the ranked-choice system offers voters the advantage of a second bite of the apple.
In my case, it would allow me to find another candidate who is also strong on education and make him or her my No. 2 pick overall, which would come into play if Adams were eliminated.
As of now, my second choice is Andrew Yang.
Although Yang capitulated to the teachers union and retracted his criticism of it over the slowness in reopening schools, he has been much more consistent in opposing the efforts by Mayor de Blasio and others to dumb down standards.
And Yang has long been a very strong supporter of charters, which offer the best education hope for poor kids who otherwise are sentenced to failure factories in their neighborhoods.
Many charter advocates have reached the same conclusion regarding Adams and Yang and are fund-raising to help both. Described by one participant as a hedging maneuver that recognizes the ranked-choice process, their aim is to insure that one or the other is elected by raising big bucks through independent super PACs and spending it without coordinating with the official campaign.
In plain English, the hedgies are hedging.
Indeed, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that four hedge-fund billionaires, including, among others, Ken Griffin and Dan Loeb, each contributed $500,000 to a PAC supporting Adams. The effort is being run by Jenny Sedlis, the executive director of StudentsFirstNY, a charter-advocacy group.
Last week, Politico reported that Griffin and Loeb also contributed a separate $500,000 each to another group aiming to increase turnout among black, Latino and Asian voters. Although Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat who is co-chair of Yang’s campaign, will help to run the effort with the NAACP, organizers say it is not backing any single candidate.
My third most important issue is the city’s out-of-whack taxing and spending habits. Before the federal bailout, the pandemic-related shutdowns revealed how dependent the city is on sky-high taxes to fund its bloated and inefficient labor force.
Rationalizing taxes and imposing spending restraints would help make New York more competitive with other cities, especially if crime is sharply reduced and schools are improved. And with federal income taxes slated to increase under President Biden, wealthy New Yorkers will have another incentive to escape the Vampire State unless local taxes are reduced.
I haven’t yet settled on another candidate who meets those tests for my third overall choice, after Adams and Yang. Ray McGuire, the former Citibank executive, is my favorite as of now, but Kathryn Garcia, who served as de Blasio’s jack of all trades and should know where the waste is, also has some appeal.
Similarly, my fourth and fifth choices are blank for now, but by Primary Election Day on June 22, I will have a plan for all five picks. You should do the same.
Crude gov is Cuo-azy like a fox
Gov. Cuomo’s jokes about sexual harassment when he’s under investigation for the very same thing are seen by many as stupid and crude.
Guilty as charged, but there’s also a method to his madness. It’s Cuomo’s way of showing he’s tough and is meant to intimidate legislators and the public who think they can drive him from office.
For the same reason, he’s not unhappy the rich terms of his book contract came out. See, he has a $5 million deal — and you don’t.
Biden’s eerie ‘shadow’
Reader Neil Broadbent makes an interesting observation about something we see almost every day, writing: “I find it very strange and creepy that Vice President Harris seems always to be shadowing President Biden at public appearances. I think it’s a very bad look for both of them.”
Maybe she’s also a Visiting Angel?
Sanders flexes on Biden, seeking to shape Dem agenda
Hasn’t he done enough?
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